Phil Mickelson Saturday Masters Press Conference Transcript
Q. Can you talk about coming back from a couple of those bogeys, the putt on the last hole and how important that was?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I knew that heading into 17, I needed to birdie 17 and 18 to get in the last group and I felt like that would be important, because I did not want to have what happened to me at Bay Hill happen again, where he knew what he had to do with a couple holes left and ultimately came through with a birdie. I wanted to be playing with him, and know where we stand and not only that, know where the rest of the field stands, because there's a lot of guys who potentially could win this golf tournament.
Q. On the double on 14, you yesterday, you said, well, I'm glad it happened early and something I could recover from -- today was -- (Inaudible)
PHIL MICKELSON: When I'm playing I'm not really thinking about if I have enough time or not. I'm just trying to get the job done, no matter what it takes. I am just trying to get the score in. I ultimately birdied 17 and 18 to do that. Certainly, it's not ideal to make double-bogey. That's not my plan of action. But I feel as though there are enough holes to recover, and tomorrow will be an important day. I don't really have too many opportunities to let slide away like that. If I'm going to come out on top tomorrow, I don't really need to play any different. I just need to reduce the mistake a touch. Turn the double into a bogey. I'm going to hit bad shots. I'm not perfect and I'm going to miss putts. I will make bogeys. But if I can just reduce it and take a 6 into a 5, I should be able to overcome that much easier with a birdie or two.
Q. You talked about reducing mistakes, you've talked about that autumn week. In hindsight, if you could play the third shot on 14 again -- I know you are as good as anybody at the lob shot, but would you change that? (Inaudible)
PHIL MICKELSON: I would say to answer the latter part of that question, the miss-hit shot does not have to be very big. That shot on 14 was a foot from becoming somewhat close to the hole or having a pretty easy par. It looked like it was going to stay up top and it didn't and it came back down and all of the sudden I've got a very difficult 4. Would I hit that shot differently? Looking at it, if you look at the shot, there was a ridge, and if I went left of the ridge, it is going to being right back down and if I go right back of the ridge it is going to go 30 feet by. I had a 30-footer anyways up the hill. So I felt like the shot I played was not an unintelligent shot. It didn't come off that badly. It just was 30 feet and I 3-putted. It is going to be a difficult four that I thought I could have made a 4 no problem. To be honest with you, I was expecting to miss, with as hard that ground it; I expected to miss a little bit long. I did not think I could get underneath it.
Q. Can you talk about what it will mean just for your confidence and your mental state tomorrow to know that you are one shot behind Tiger at the TOUR Championship and went on to beat him?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I certainly have a lot of respect for Tiger as a player and as a person and what he goes through day-in and day-out and what he has accomplished in the game of golf. With that being said, I've been able to go head-to-head with him and come out on top a few times. I do have confidence that I can prevail tomorrow. So, I'm looking forward to the challenge. Not only that, I feel like I've been playing well the last year and a half and my ball-striking has improved to the point where I feel very comfortable that it will be there when I need it. And I'm not overly anxious the way I have been in years past, heading into tomorrow.
Q. Can you talk about No. 8 and 3-putting, how far was the first putt?
PHIL MICKELSON: About six feet.
Q. Can you take us through it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was obviously downhill and quick, and I tried to make it, and it slid by about three feet and I missed it coming back. I don't know what else to say. I hit the first putt very easy. I tried not to go at it, just trickle it in. I had a pretty good read and it just didn't do what I thought it would. Just missed it coming back. It was a poor second putt. It didn't go ridiculously far, five -- just three feet.
Q. At 9, was that a big thing to rebound like that?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, it helps with me being patient. If I can get a birdie back in the next few holes, it makes being patient much easier.
Q. Can you talk about the difference between last year and this year? Can you talk about your mindset going into tomorrow, and why your mind set is --
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I feel very confident tomorrow, because I've been playing well this last year and a half, and the swing changes that I have made, I feel like a much more consistent ball striker day-in and day-out and I feel like I have become a more consistent putter as well. So the anxiety that I would have between rounds on whether or not it would be there tomorrow, is really no longer there. I feel very comfortable that when I get on the tee tomorrow, it will be there.
Q. One of the things that Chris DiMarco said that was sort of intimidating about playing with Tiger is that, you know, Chris has got 6-, 7-irons in, and Tiger is hitting sand wedges, pitching wedges, just blowing it by him. In terms of length, do you think that is going to be an issue as to who is going to be first away tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll be first away. (Laughter.) There's no question on that. Most of the holes that you will see a big difference in distance will be the right-to-left holes because he will be hitting a draw, to my cut. On the left-to-right holes, I don't think you'll see too big of a difference when he is having to cut it, to my draw. But holes like 5, he'll be well by me, and holes like, I guess, 18 - 18 he is hitting driver and I'm hitting iron or 3-wood. There will be a big difference there.
Q. Talk a little bit about the psychology of that, hitting first into greens? Do you put pressure on him?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well it depends how close you hit it. Hit it close, sure. If not, you give him a free reign at it. I'm not overly concerned about the distance barrier tomorrow. I think that all of the par 5's will be reachable for both of us. He might have a shorter iron in. The par 5's -- the par 4's, he might have a shorter iron in, but it won't be anything that could not be overcome.
Q. Are you mentally a different golfer than two, three, four years ago?
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely. Not only mentally but physically.
Q. Is there more of a mental toughness to you out there than there has been four or five years ago?
PHIL MICKELSON: Possibly. You could attribute it to mental toughness or you could attribute it to improved ball-striking, improved putting. I think I would attribute it to the latter.
Q. Do you have to guard against maybe locking into a match-play mentality?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think Tiger or I will approach tomorrow as match play. If you look on the board, there are some guys behind that are incredible players, that are going to have an opportunity to get out 40 minutes in front of us, make a run, make birdies early; and all of the sudden, before we tee off we could be trailing. So I don't think the approach, by either of us, will be match play at all. Maybe on the back nine if we both shoot 4- or 5-under on the front it might turn into something like that, but I don't anticipate that being the atmosphere.
Q. Talk about the mental changes you made. What sort of swing changes, technique?
PHIL MICKELSON: There's a bunch of little things to go into, but just basically becoming more fundamentally sound. I think if you look at videotape from this year's tournament, let's say, and you look back at 1996 when I won four times and you look at my swing from behind and face on, you'll see a huge difference. If you cannot see the difference, you haven't really spent too much time studying the swing, because you'll notice a swing plane difference; you'll notice a club face angle difference; you'll notice lower body action change; you'll notice an upper body action change. There's a lot of -- and they all work together. And so it is hard to say one without the other. Just a number of things.
Q. How badly do you want this tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that's pretty obvious one to answer. Desperately want this. Very much so. I've said all along that I feel like this provides me with the best opportunity, and it is something that I've been looking forward to for some time to finally break through. I have been preparing, not just this past year, not just this past ten years, but since I was a little kid, picking up range balls at a driving range so I could practice as much as I needed to, dreaming of this day. And so tomorrow is a very important day for me.
Q. Can you take us shot-by-shot on 17 and 18?
PHIL MICKELSON: 17, I hit driver and 9-iron from 140 to 15 feet and made that for birdie. 18, hit 2-iron off the tee and 8-iron to the ten feet and made that for birdie.
Q. Does playing with Tiger in the final day affect your aggressiveness, as opposed to playing with anyone else, even if it is subconscious?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. (Laughter.)
Q. You were about to say something? I would be interested to see what you would say?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't want to short-change you on your answer. But basically, no. (Laughter.)
Q. You said the other day that the next ten years are important to you, how people are going to look at you and remember you. Does that make this final round of the Masters, whoever you are playing against, the biggest night of your life?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, yes, because the way I look at it is the winner of this tournament doesn't just win a major. He becomes a part of the history of the game, and that's what I -- what excites me. This tournament creates -- it creates something that is very special, and year-in and year-out, history is made here. History of the game is made here, and I want to be a part of that. That's why this tournament means so much to me.
Q. Other than not having a beeper attached to your body, what is the difference between the way that you're focusing in on that versus Pinehurst, because you played so well at Pinehurst?
PHIL MICKELSON: There's really not too much difference. I felt like I went into Pinehurst with the sole ambition of winning, because I did not want to travel across the United States and leave my wife, who is due any week now, to just finish in the Top-10. I've been approaching the four majors differently this year, in that a lot of the preparation has been trying to find out what works best for me, and how to prepare best for these tournaments. I think I'm pretty close to finding out what that is, and I came here with the sole intention of winning, just like everybody else did. But I feel like this is the best opportunity for me to finally do that.
P. DAN YATES: It's been a long day for Phil. So let's have one more question right here. (Laughter).
Q. I wish I could make this a simple question, but I'm afraid it's a little beyond that. In watching Tiger in the last three, four years, and your preparation and your mindset for this moment, what have you learned from him?
PHIL MICKELSON: That for me to win, I have to strive to reach a different level of play, and I have to be able to attain it. And that means not worrying or thinking about other players. That means bringing my best game out, and that's -- that's something that's not always easy to do, but that's what I've been trying to learn from that.
Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open
Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy
Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.
“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”
“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”
The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.
(All Times Local)
Monday, June 18 Austin, Texas (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, June 19 Houston (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)
Wednesday, June 20 Jacksonville, Fla. (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)
Monday, June 25 Orlando, Fla. (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)
Wednesday, July 4 Washington D.C. (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)
Monday, July 9 Edison, N.J. (Topgolf, Time TBA)
Wednesday, July 11 Lake Tahoe, Nev. American Century Championship (On Course)
Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.
NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.
USGA-player relationship at a breaking point?
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – For seven days each year, the American game’s preeminent governing body welcomes the best players in the world with open arms. They set up shop at one of the premier courses in the country, and line it with grandstands and white hospitality tents as far as the eye can see.
The players arrive, first at a slow trickle and then at a steady pace. And once they’ve registered and clipped their player medallions over their belts, they’re told how this year is going to be different.
How this time around, be it in a Washington gravel pit or on a time-tested piece of land on the tip of Long Island, the USGA will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That the process of identifying the best players in the world will not veer into the territory of embarrassing them.
Like a college sweetheart in search of reconciliation, the powers-that-be preach a changed attitude and a more even-handed approach. Then, inevitably, they commit the same cardinal sins they promised to avoid.
So year in and year out, the scar tissue builds. Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick the football and, for most of the players not named Brooks Koepka, he ends up on his butt in a cloud of dust and fescue.
Apparently the Blue Bloods of the @USGA do. I refuse to watch it because I know what the outcome will be. Mike Davis and his crew could ruin Christmas. #amateurhacks #giveusourgameback https://t.co/n3GgOJl02C— William McGirt (@WilliamMcGirt) June 16, 2018
After letting Shinnecock Hills plunge into avoidable yet all-too-familiar territory over the weekend – before being doused back to life – one thing is clear: in the eyes of many players, the USGA can’t be trusted.
“When are they going to get it right? I just feel like they disrespect these historic golf courses,” said Scott Piercy, a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open who got swept away this week during a crispy third round en route to a T-45 finish. “I think they disrespect the players, I think they disrespect the game of golf. And they’re supposed to be, like, the top body in the game of golf. And they disrespect it, every aspect of it.”
Piercy, like several players in this week’s field, had a few specific gripes about how Shinnecock was set up, especially during the third round when USGA CEO Mike Davis admitted his organization lost control in a display that echoed the mistakes of 2004. But this was not an isolated case.
Players went with skepticism to Chambers Bay three years ago, only to encounter greens that were largely dirt and got compared to produce. Mismatched grass strains, they were told. Whoops.
The next year the USGA threw a dark cloud over a classic venue by allowing much of the final round at Oakmont to play without knowing the leader’s actual score as a rules fiasco reached a furious boil. Last year’s Erin Hills experiment was met with malaise.
At this point, the schism runs much deeper than a single error in setup. It threatens the core competency of the organization in the eyes of several of the players it looks to serve.
“They do what they want, and they don’t do it very well. As far as I’m concerned, there is no relationship (between players and the USGA),” said Marc Leishman. “They try and do it. They do it on purpose. They say they want to test us mentally, and they do that by doing dumb stuff.”
Thanks guys did Bozo set the course up or are the @USGA going to accept responsibility or just say “IF WE HAD A MULLIGAN” I would have liked about 6 mulligans today. But they are not allowed at this level. “Apparently” pic.twitter.com/O08vOpNlTx— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) June 17, 2018
By and large, players who took issue with the USGA’s tactics had a simple solution: put more of the setup choices in the hands of those who oversee PGA Tour and European Tour venues on a regular basis. While some of those personnel already moonlight in USGA sweater-vests for the week, there is a strong sentiment that their collective knowledge could be more heavily relied upon.
“I know (the USGA) takes great pride in doing all this stuff they do to these golf courses, but they see it once a year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “Let those guys say, ‘Hey, we see this every week. We know what the edge is. We know where it is.’ We can’t be out there playing silly golf.”
That’s not to say that a major should masquerade as the Travelers Championship. But the U.S. Open is the only one of the four that struggles to keep setup shortfalls from becoming a dominant storyline.
It all adds up to a largely adversarial relationship, one that continues to fray after this weekend’s dramatics and which isn’t helped by the USGA’s insistence that they should rarely shoulder the blame.
“They’re not going to listen, for one. Mike Davis thinks he’s got all the answers, that’s No. 2,” said Pat Perez after a T-36 finish. “And when he is wrong, there’s no apologies. It’s just, ‘Yeah, you know, we kind of let it get out of hand.’ Well, no kidding. Look at the scores. That’s the problem. It’s so preventable. You don’t have to let it get to that point.”
As a player and a golf fan myself, it’s sad to see how one of our biggest tournaments @usopengolf gets ripped apart because the @USGA can’t figure out the right set up for the great golf courses we play!!— Sergio Garcia (@TheSergioGarcia) June 17, 2018
But this wound festers from more than just slick greens and thick rough. There is a perception among some players that the USGA gets overly zealous in crafting complicated rules with complex decisions, a collection of amateur golfers doling out the fine print that lords over the professional game on a weekly basis – with the curious handling of whatever Phil Mickelson did on the 13th green Saturday serving as just the latest example.
The gripes over setup each year at the USGA’s biggest event, when it’s perceived that same group swoops in to take the reins for a single week before heading for the hills, simply serve as icing on the cake. And there was plenty of icing this week after players were implored to trust that the miscues of 2004 would not be repeated.
“To say that the players and the USGA have had a close relationship would be a false statement,” Snedeker said. “They keep saying all the right things, and they’re trying to do all the right things, I think. But it’s just not coming through when it matters.”
It’s worth noting that the USGA has made efforts recently to ramp up its communication with the top pros. Officials from the organization have regularly attended the Tour’s player meetings in recent months, and Snedeker believes that some strides have been made.
So, too, does Zach Johnson, who was one of the first to come out after the third round and declare that the USGA had once again lost the golf course.
“I think they’ve really started to over the last few years, last couple years in particular, tried to increase veins of communication,” Johnson said. “When you’re talking about a week that is held in the highest regards, I’m assuming within the organization and certainly within my peer group as one of the four majors and my nation’s major, communication is paramount.”
I wish the @USGA would realize that this course really is special. But it was never designed to have greens at 15 on the stemp. You look like you’re trying to embarrass the best players in the world!— Colt Knost (@ColtKnost) June 17, 2018
But the exact size of the credibility gap the USGA has to bridge with some top pros remains unclear. It’s likely not a sting that one good week of tournament setup can assuage, even going to one of the more straightforward options in the rotation next year at Pebble Beach.
After all, Snedeker was quick to recall that players struggled mightily to hit the par-3 17th green back in 2010, with eventual champ Graeme McDowell calling the hole “borderline unfair” ahead of the third round.
“It’s one of the greatest holes in world golf, but I don’t really know how I can hit the back left portion of the green,” McDowell said at the time. “It’s nearly impossible.”
Surely this time next year, Davis will explain how the USGA has expanded its arsenal in the last decade, and that subsequent changes to the 17th green structure will make it more playable. His organization will then push the course to the brink, like a climber who insists on scaling Mount Everest without oxygen, and they’ll tell 156 players that this time, finally, the desired balance between difficult and fair has been achieved.
Whether they’ll be believed remains to be seen.
Bubba gets inked by Brooks, meets Tebow
Bubba Watson missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills following rounds of 77-74, but that didn't stop him from enjoying his weekend.
Watson played alongside Jason Day and eventual champion Brooks Koepka in Rounds 1 and 2, and somehow this body ink slipped by us on Thursday.
And while we're sure Bubba would have rather been in contention over the weekend, we're also sure that taking your son to meet the second most famous minor-league baseball player who ever lived was a lot more fun than getting your teeth kicked in by Shinnecock Hills over the weekend, as just about everyone not named Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood did.
Already in Hartford, Watson will be going for his third Travelers Championship trophy this week, following wins in 2010 and 2015.
Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it
There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.
The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."
Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:
If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.
“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”
The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.
Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).
We followed our defending champion Toto Gana during his registration! He even did his Donald Duck impression!— LAAC (@LAAC_Golf) January 17, 2018
Acompañamos a Toto Gana, defensor del título, durante todo el proceso de acreditación. ¡Incluso imitó a Donald Duck!#LAAC2018 pic.twitter.com/NGh7hS4cCz